13 Creative Marketing Techniques to Grow your Small Business

PART FIVE OF THE HOW TO RUN A BUSINESS ON A BUDGET SERIES

I love thinking of new ways to promote products, grow social media, and all other aspects tied to marketing your business and your brand.

I have curated a list of 13 creative marketing techniques to grow your small business that hopefully will give you some new ways to start thinking about marketing that will, in turn, grow your business.

All the marketing techniques I am going to mention in today’s post are either free to do or very inexpensive. I will also link some helpful (free) resources at the end.

Getting the word out

1- Always be promoting yourself
I have found that people can’t help but watch when I crochet in public, they get mesmerized by the repetitive motions and are amazed they can see an item being formed right in front of their eyes.

This is a great way to promote your business! Take some business cards and whenever someone approaches you to tell you how cool they think watching you is, say oh thank you, I actually sell my finished pieces, here’s a business card.

If you make wearables, like hats, wear your own designs when you go out! I get compliments all the time when I wear hats I’ve made, I say “thank you so much, I actually sell them in my etsy shop” and hand them a business card. People love buying things from people in their community!

2- Ask family and friends to share your work (not your customers)
I personally feel like begging customers to share pics of your work on social media can be a little spammy and annoying as a customer. There is a “right way” to entice your customers to share- which we will dive into later in this post- but when it comes to your close friends and family? Spam it up lol.

Send them a text and say “hey I just listed a new product can you share it on social media?” or “hey I just posted a new blog post, would you mind to share it for me please”.

If you’re having a sale or promoting a coupon, ask your family and close friends to share it. They love you, they want to see you succeed, so they will share your stuff.

If you feel like you are annoying the fire out of them, it’s totally fine lol. You are trying to build a business, most likely completely on your own, and it’s ok to reach out for a little help from time to time. It’s what friends and family are for!

3- Share in Facebook groups
If you sell crochet patterns, promoting it in Facebook groups that allow it is a great way to get the word out on your new pattern! Be sure to read the rules first though because every group is different.

If you sell finished pieces and mom’s are your target audience, reach out to some mom facebook groups, maybe your town has some local facebook groups you could promote through.

If you are an Etsy seller I know there are some seller promotion Facebook groups you could join. This is something free you could do to help promote your products that don’t take that long to do.

Try to start promoting your business once a day, in a different spot each day, that would be a good starting point!

Some of my favorite Facebook groups for promoting new patterns is Repeat Crafter Me Crochet and Whistle and Ivy Crochet Club.

4- Giveaway free product
This is a great way to start getting your product out there. Gift friends and family and give them a handful of business cards, then when they get asked about their product or complimented they can say “thanks so and so made it” and hand out your card!

If your local church, sports team or group is doing a fundraiser, donate some product! If a school is raising money, donate some product.

Any time you can give out your products, with business cards, you are promoting your business.

Word of mouth is still the best way to market, people like buying things other people they trust recommend! Which brings me to my next point…

5- Reach out to Influencers
Influencers are a great way to promote your business and also grow your social media following. Sometimes these people can have hundreds of thousands of followers!

I recommend just messaging them, either through social media or through email. They are just regular people like me and you, and the worst they can do is say no thanks, so really what’s the risk?

If you happen to notice someone, with a huge following, is commenting on your stuff, offer to send them product in exchange for promotion!

That happened to me in 2016, Wendy Bentley from Youtube commented on my Claire Bun Beanie picture on Instagram, I sent her a beanie, and she put it in her youtube video that week! (Jump ahead to 7:00 if you want to see!) This got me a lot of sales and a lot of new instagram followers!

But how do you find influencers? My best tip is to search through relevant hashtags.

If you sell something that has bohemian vibes, search for #bohostyle, #bohobaby, #bohomom, whatever targets what you are trying to promote.

Then look at the top pics for that hashtag (this is all in Instagram by the way), if you see any pics that stand out to you, it’s well lit, has a beautiful model, great background etc… check out that person’s profile!

See how many followers they have, see what kind of engagement their pictures are getting, if it all looks great- shoot them a message!

Say hi my names Ashley and I have a handmade business where I sell such and such. I would love to send you a such and such in exchange for a promotion post on Instagram.

If you have any favorite accounts you follow, reach out to them! If you have any favorite YouTubers, send them a message.

Don’t be shy or embarrassed, be proud! You are trying to build something amazing, you are growing your business from the ground up, you are proud of your product and want to share it with the world!

Project these feelings in your messages, don’t be worried about “what if I’m not professional enough”, it’s ok, just be a person…a genuine person, that’ll do the trick 🙂

6- Reach out to community members
If you have been following me for some time, i’m sure you have seen this picture…

This is Erica, a girl from my town. She has a huge following on IG (and she doesn’t even try yall, people just follow her because she’s so pretty and has amazing style and her kids are the cutest too).

I asked Erica if she would like a beanie in exchange for a post on Instagram, she agreed, and I got over 100 new followers that same day she posted. These are quality followers guys, mostly local people!

If there is someone in your town that knows everyone and has a lot of influence, give them some product!

Speaking of community members, maybe you know a couple small business owners who would be interested in setting up some of your product in your shop, or at least giving you a shout out on social media!

It’s always good to reach out to like minded folks because they know where your head’s at and they know how important marketing it.

7- Cross promoting
This kind of falls under reaching out to other business owners, but it doesn’t have to be just people in your local community, it can be people in your online communities as well.

Find a way to work with another maker or business owner who has the same target audience as you and promote each other! Maybe do a giveaway together, give a coupon code to each other’s newsletter, any time 2 businesses do this, both parties will grow!

I did this a lot when I worked at a college textbook store, our target audience was college students, well college students were also the target audience of other shops/businesses.

We organized events, gave out coupons, did giveaways, all sorts of stuff with other local businesses because that gave both businesses access to two different sets of audiences.

I also noticed my favorite YouTuber, Mr. Kate, started decorating rooms of other popular YouTubers homes and her audience EXPLODED.

She went from like 600k subscribers to over 3 million subscribers and I swear it felt like it happened almost overnight (obviously not but still, it was fast).

It was because when she renovated someone room, they also shared the reno on their channels, both audiences are reached and both YouTuber’s grow!

Growing your business

After you start getting the word out about your business and your product and you’ve started getting a few sales, here are some tips to help you continue to grow.

8- Entice your customers to buy
Find creative ways to reach out to your customers and make them return customers. You already know they like your product because they’ve shopped with you before, so let’s bring them back!

If you have a newsletter (you should have a newsletter), market to your customers through that. Offer bulk discounts, buy one get one 50% off, Buy 2 get 1 free, free shipping, things like that, to encourage your customers to buy.

Maybe you could offer some sort of unique incentive!

When I first opened my Etsy shop in 2016, I was just selling my stuffies. Something I did to get people to buy them was the first person to buy a new stuffy design, gets to name that stuffy.

So I had the Wilson Giraffe, Dixie Chicken, Mia Moo-Moo, Bella Hippo etc. People loved that they got to name the design and that’s how it would show up in my shop from then on.

I remember the day I opened I had maybe 12 new stuffy designs and I sold out that same day just from traffic I directed to my shop and people wanting to name them.

9- Entice your customers to share
Think of ways you can entice people to share without sounding desperate or spammy. Maybe get creative with a quirky hashtag.

When I sold Claire Bun Beanies the first year, I put on one of my packaging inserts use the hashtag #showmeyourcrafybuns . This was funny, and fun so it encouraged people to share!

Maybe you could host a competition of sorts! Have your customers share a pic of your product and whoever has the most likes by the deadline gets free product! That would be fun!

Host a giveaway! Everyone who shares a pic wearing/using your product gets entered into a giveaway.

You could make this a monthly thing and say every month we go through our tagged pics that month and select a winner to receive free product.

If you share your customer pics regularly on social media, your customers will see that, and they might think “hey if I post a pic maybe they’ll share mine”.

This is a way to get customer pics without even asking! People like to do what other people are doing, FOMO and all that, so If they see people are sharing pics, they’ll hop on the sharing wagon!

Post customer pics, linking to their accounts of course, and say something like “look at @soandso wearing their messy bun beanie #bungoals” and that will start to get the attention of your other customers.

10- Use hashtags with your target audience in mind
I see this a lot on Instagram, a maker will post a picture of a beanie they have for sale and they will use hashtags like #crochet #crochetcommunity #ilovecrochet #lionbrandyarn ect.

These hashtags are great, but they are not going to be what people who buy beanies are looking for. Use hashtags that reach your ideal buyer.

If you sell messy bun beanies maybe you need to reach moms and college students so #collegelife #mombun #momhairdontcare #messybungoals, things like that are going to be more likely to reach customers instead of just other crocheters who like your picture.

11- Be friendly on social media
If a customer messages you or comments on your picture, acknowledge them, genuinely respond to them and make them feel valued.

This will do loads for your brand, result in return customers and also result in more shares, tags etc.

If you are kind and loving to your customers, it will be appreciated, they will start to care about you as the maker and not just their super cool beanie they bought, then they’ll WANT to buy from you and they’ll WANT to tell everyone they know about your shop.

Also, be friendly on other people’s account (like possible customers), if you see a mom rocking her mom bun comment on the pic and tell her how cute she looks, then she might be like well who in the world is that and click on your profile, find your products, buy 10 beanies, haha it could happen! Who doesn’t like nice people?!

12- Have outstanding customer service
This is a big one, especially for creating return customers. If you see an opportunity to go above and beyond with your customers, do it!

Answer emails promptly, if someone has emailed you and it takes 2 days to get a response they’re not going to feel very valued as a customer.

If you are talking to a customer in your messages and she mentions she is buying a hat for her niece that just turned 5, mention something about her niece in a thank you card you send with the package.

Maybe send a freebie to the niece as a little birthday gift from you! Things like that will stand out in your customers brain and they will remember your shop the next time they need to buy a beanie.

If someone is unhappy with their product, offer to remake it, or send a second one and let them gift the first one.

Yes sometimes you will just be getting people trying to get free product, but sometimes they’re being genuine and that extra mile you take to insure they love their product and have a positive shopping experience with you is going to go a long way into making them a return customer, and to get them to tell everyone they know about the amazing service they just had.

I remember I ordered a bag of dog food from chewy.com and I accidently ordered the large dog breed instead of the small dog breed food.

I sent them a message, said it was totally my fault and I needed to return the wrong dog food and exchange it for the right dog food. They told me to just donate the wrong back to my local animal shelter and they will send me a new bag asap.

I was blown away by this, and yes I did tell everyone I know how amazing chewy.com’s customer service was!

Something I did through my shop one year, I had a customer message me because she needed to change her shipping address.

My current turnaround time was like 10-12 weeks or something crazy like that and while she was waiting for her beanie her house caught on fire and burnt down, this was right before Christmas too yall, I was heartbroken for her.

I did a quick google search on her address and sure enough, there was news coverage of her house burning. I made and shipped her beanie the next day (pushing her to the front of my orders list) and I included a Christmas ornament with her order.

I couldn’t get the image of all her family’s Christmas ornaments being burnt in the fire and them not having any for that year’s Christmas. She sent me the most beautiful thank you message after she received her package and it was truly a wonderful experience for both of us.

Read my “HOW TO DEAL WITH -NOT SO NICE- CUSTOMERS” post for more tips on responding to customer messages.

13- Highlight what makes your business unique
People love a good story. If you have a reason for why you do what you do, promote that, talk about it, work it into your branding.

This will help you stand out, encourage customers to shop with you and encourage people to share about your shop/business.

If you run your business out of an RV, if you homeschool 12 kids while running your business, if you use recycled materials, if you employ local stay at home moms, if you donate a percentage of your profit to a charity, whatever you do that makes your business unique, share that!

Let your customers know about that side of your business, and that will help you stand out in their minds.

I feel like that was a lot of quick information to process lol, feel free to re-read this post and make any notes if you’re a note taker!

Also if you haven’t read the Photography Tips post, the Packaging on a Budget post or the Newsletter post all of those have a marketing aspect to them as well.

I hope this post got you thinking about marketing in a different way, gave you some fresh ideas you can start implementing and got you excited about growing your business.

If you have any questions, or just want to bounce ideas please don’t hesitate to reach out, I am happy to help!

I didn’t even touch on the value of Pinterest because I am still learning myself, but I did find an awesome podcast my friend Maria at Maria’s Blue Crayon shared with me!

It’s called Simple Pin Media and it’s amazing, I definitely recommend listening to a couple episodes and learning how to use Pinterest to grow your business and sell your products.

Good luck marketing!!
❤️Ashley

6 thoughts on “13 Creative Marketing Techniques to Grow your Small Business

  1. Alyssa Millar says:

    Ashley!! These are amazing tips, you are such a creative genius!! I had to LOL at the “homeschool 12 kids” part! I have 7 kids total, homeschooling my 5 oldest. It’s definitely challenging sometimes to juggle it all but sooo worth it, I love being able to stay home and watch the grow & learn!! Thank you so much for sharing these tips! I definitely need to change up my tags to draw more of my target audience to my posts. I’m excited!!

  2. Verah says:

    This is so quite useful, i appreciate so very much…im just a newbue on crotcheting and these points gonna b useful
    Much love
    Verah, all thecway in Kenya

    • Ashley says:

      Thank you so much! I did actually!! I was thinking about making an Ebook for the whole series (i think those are printable…) You are the first person to mention it! I’ll try to get that on the docket! Ill be sure to send out a newsletter if/when it’s available!

  3. leval Ainah says:

    Thanks for sharing the article entitled 13 creative marketing techniques to grow your small business Loved your explanation on each table of content.
    It is relevant and insightful to me.

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